Deciding our Future: NO to the Free Trade Agreement with the EU!

Joint declaration of civilsociety organisations from the EU, Colombia, Peru and all of Latin America: We, the undersigned organisations – human rights organisations, trade unions, peasant farmer organisations, indigenous people’s organisations, Afro-descendants, victims of armed conflict, students’ organisations, women’s organisations, environmental and development organisations – wish to see a transformation in the existing relations between the European Union (EU) and Latin America. We stand in favour of trade relations based on complementarity and rights-based, inclusive development for all regions. We believe that the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiated by the EU with Peru and Colombia, and also proposed for Ecuador and Bolivia, is heading in the opposite direction, taking into account that: • There are dramatic differences between the development level of the economies of Europe and of the Andean countries. These asymmetries make it possible for the stronger actor, in this case the EU, to impose conditions in its interest (and particularly in the interests of its corporations), applying rules that limit the ability of countries to define their own development models and also, as a result, limiting the well-being of the majority both in Europe and in the Andean countries. • The agreement between the EU and the Andean countries was negotiated before the implosion of the European crisis. As it relates to the present, the agreement proposes measures such as financial services liberalisation that will deepen the very model that is in crisis. Such measures are currently threatening not only the real economy but also the existence of public services such as health and education. • The agreement will deepen the extractive model of mining in Colombia and Peru, and their reliance on primary exports, with serious environmental and social consequences for the land itself and for local communities – consequences which have not been taken into account in the agreement as negotiated. • The FTA favours the legal security of investors to the detriment of the rights and development prospects of the peoples of Latin America. The current provisions on human rights in the agreement are ineffective, in the same way as those currently in force under the GSP+ framework. In addition, the benefits that European companies will obtain will not result in greater well-being or the fulfilment of citizens’ economic and social rights. • These agreements were negotiated behind the backs of affected peoples in Latin America and Europe alike, in the midst of intense social conflict. As a result, the agreements fail to take into account their views, concerns or interests. By way of illustration, the following examples indicate some of the possible negative effects of the agreements as negotiated: – In Colombia, around half of the indigenous population is endangered mostly due to the development of economic projects (mainly extractive industries and agribusiness) in their territories. According to the sustainability impact assessment commissioned by the European Commission itself, the FTA between the EU and Colombia and Peru will result in increased pressure on the land. Indigenous peoples’ organisations have repeatedly appeared at the European Parliament to denounce this situation, but their complaints have not been taken into account thus far. – The FTA as negotiated poses a serious threat to food sovereignty and security, as demonstrated by the adverse impacts expected for small producers in the dairy sectors of the respective countries. The promotion of agro-industry and the expansion of production of oil palm and sugar cane, raw materials for biofuels, implies a modification of the use of the soil, a weakening of the peasant sector and the displacement of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. – Colombia exports 94 per cent of its coal, and the EU is the primary importer. The majority of this coal is mined in the departments of Guajira and Cesar. Fully 67 per cent is extracted by European transnational corporations, and this figure will rise if more privileges are granted to investors, as provided for in the FTA. Colombia is the country with the lowest operating costs on the continent, but sees only the negative environmental, social and economic effects of the extractive industry. The Comptroller General has shown that transnational companies do not pay even what it is required of them in law. Yet nothing in the FTA allows for greater control over the companies or their corporate responsibility. On the contrary, multinational companies may sue the Colombian state if it refuses to issue environmental licences for mining, on the grounds that this is an unjustified restriction on investment. – In Peru and Colombia, mining projects have not properly considered the environmental and social impacts of their operations, as reflected in the cases of Cajamarca (Peru) and Santurban (Colombia), both located in ecologically sensitive areas, and where the local communities in question have registered their rejection of the projects. The impacts of this FTA on the population in general – and especially on rural communities, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombian communities and women – cannot be resolved through a limited ‘road map’ with no binding relation to the agreement as a whole. At the same time, the critical human rights situation, the violence against trade unions and the continuing threats to human rights defenders with the complicity of the Colombian state remain unresolved. A recent report commissioned by the European Parliament from British academics concludes: “There is no specific mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the human rights clause, nor a subcommittee dedicated to human rights and democracy issues.” The report underlines that “contrary to the European Parliament’s position, the agreement contains only the most limited references to corporate social responsibility (as areas for cooperation). Nor does it make any reference to ILO Convention No 169 on indigenous and tribunal [sic] rights, to which the sustainability impact assessment makes reference.” For these and other reasons, the undersigned Andean organisations call on you to vote NO to the ratification of this FTA. Letter Deciding our Future: NO to the Free Trade Agreement with the EU! 25oct2012 Carta Decidiendo Nuestro Futuro: ¡No al tratado de libre comercio con la UE¡ 25oct 2012]]>